Network Security and the Financial Industry

Craig Pollack | Aug 14, 2013

network securityAs hackers have become more and more aggressive, it’s more important than ever for financial services firms to understand the latest risks and protect themselves accordingly. 

Watch dog organizations such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have handed out hefty fines to those firms who hadn’t sufficiently protected their clients’ confidential information from cyber criminals. 

In fact, a $1.5 million cyberheist against a California escrow firm earlier this year forced the company to close and lay off its entire staff (you can read more about it here:!

It used to be old-school hackers would just take down your web site through a denial of service attack or break in to your network and take advantage of your computing resources without you knowing it.  But, today’s hackers are way more sophisticated. 

I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard clients or potential clients brush off our concerns about securing their network with “we’re so small.  No one would be interested in our data”.  Little do they understand that one of the latest tricks out there is to implant a virus, enabling them to access and steal their data. 

Cyber criminals (no longer just hackers) are getting more and more sophisticated as well.  Now we’ve seen signs where they go after specific firms or hedge funds.  They research to figure out who the key employees are, get their email addresses, and then hunt down needed information ahead of time. 

One of the most popular ways of infiltrating an organization is by tricking employees to click on a link or an attachment which then infects their computer.  This gives the hacker access to the system, enabling them to access and steal their data. 

Another huge area being tapped into these days is the soft underbelly of organizations – internal threats such as disgruntled employees. Most recently Edward Snowden shined a bright light on how dangerous a disgruntled employee can be to an organization.

Employed as a private contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA), Edward Snowden disclosed the agency’s top-secret data mining activities.  Snowden reportedly used a flash drive to smuggle this sensitive information out of the NSA’s office.  This could have been prevented with the correct network security in place.

If the NSA isn’t immune from data breaches, than you have to ask - who is?  Well, the answer is: No One!  The reality, though, isn’t to just throw up your hands and give up. The right answer is to make things as difficult as possible so that the hackers move on to someone easier. 

Try as they may, inhouse IT staff rarely have the knowledge nor the experience to harden their networks as needed.  Only the best and most focused outsourced IT service providers make intrusion prevention a core component of their ongoing managed services ensuring their clients are protected. 

So, this begs the question - are you as secure as you should be? If you're a financial services firm, it's more important than ever to ensure that you are.

If you'd like to learn more about network security for your financial services firm, download our free guide for Los Angeles investment advisors: Investing in High Net Worth Clients - Using Technology to Manage and Grow Your Firm.


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Craig Pollack

Craig Pollack

Craig is the Founder & CEO of FPA Technology Services, Inc. Craig provides the strategy and direction for FPA, ensuring its clients, business owners, and key decision makers leverage technology as efficiently and effectively as possible. With over 25 years of experience building the preeminent IT Service Provider in the Southern California area, Craig is one of the area’s leading authorities on how small to mid-sized businesses can best secure and leverage their technology to achieve their business objectives.